Consumers are abandoning traditional customer service channels and are looking for new and more convenient ways to interact with companies. Here email and telephone are in decline, and the use of chatbots or social media messaging have increased. To understand the market better, Digital Journal spoke with Abinash Tripathy, founder and CSO of Helpshift, which is a modern communications platform for businesses. Helpshift have provided an analysis of roundup of customer service channels, focusing on innovative CRM/chatbot companies. Digital Journal: How has digital communication technology affected businesses and the way they connect with consumers?Abinash Tripathy: Business and industries across the board have been transformed because of automated communication technology. Uber, for example, is a digital innovation that has created a new model for transportation which has disrupted the taxi industry. In reality, it started out much more simply, as a goal of solving the human in-efficiency in hailing taxis via a phone call to a human-powered dispatch center that acted as an intermediary to a fleet of taxis by using a digital medium like the GPS-enabled smartphone. This concept has now evolved to add numerous other digitally enabled innovations and is now disrupting not just the taxi industry but several other major industries, such as car rentals, parking lots, logistics and supply chain, deliveries and more. Businesses are now applying digital thought to their operations and reinventing how any process that affects their customers or their employees can be optimized to deliver an Uber-like experience by leveraging smart-device data and algorithms to dramatically improve the experience, give valuable time back to humans and enjoy the economics of digital scale. DJ: How important is good communication for businesses? Tripathy: Communication is about the human connection and is the key to personal and career success. It is, therefore, the key tenet of any good business that values its customers and employees. DJ: What role to chatbots play in the communication process? Tripathy: Chatbots are, simply, a very powerful tool in the digital toolbox that can be applied to improve organizational communication. Chatbots work to make communication simple, timely and effective. DJ: How do consumers react to chatbots? Tripathy: When chatbots are designed around immature technology like natural language understanding that has an accuracy rate of between 30 and 40 percent, it is bound to frustrate consumers. Siri, Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa are not predominantly used in people’s daily lives because they just don’t work reliably every time and are prone to errors. Unfortunately, many businesses that are not customer centric deployed these bots without enough thought around the customer experience they were creating. This generated a perception in the consumers’ mind that bots don’t work — very similar to the reaction of the initial launch of Apple Maps and Siri. When chatbots are designed with the human in mind, however, and deliver a great experience while saving them time, consumers enjoy the experience. A good example of this is Amazon’s customer service chatbot which is built using very simple technology — such as simple decision trees — that works reliably and saves the consumer a lot of time. DJ: What makes for a good customer service chatbot? Tripathy: An effective chatbot will identify the five to 10 top issues that drive the majority of customer service volume and identify the repeatable patterns a human agent would perform to address these issues. It will also create simple programmed bot interactions for each of these issue types and deploy a layer of AI to identify and classify these issues with an accuracy rate greater than 85 percent and route it to the appropriate bots programmed to handle these issues This approach is based on the premise that the bot is not trying to have a wide range of unbounded communication — the type of interaction that can lead to a dead end fast due to the immaturity of today’s AI technology. The first generation of bots failed because that they did not respect the limitations of state-of-the-art AI. DJ: What services does Helpshift provide? Tripathy: Helpshift provides a modern communications platform for businesses focused on customer communication. It is based on the widely accepted messaging model that is the most pervasive medium of communication for today's consumer. This is significantly different from live chat of the past which was built to provide a “live” phone call experience, including full duplex communication via text messages. Messaging is akin to the half-duplex walkie-talkie experience, where the two parties are not tethered to each other to communicate and respect each other’s time. Embedded in this messaging experience is a layer of intelligent AI algorithms to identify specific problems that can be solved by programmed bots. This makes for a highly efficient model for communication with very low error rates. Helpshift is packaged as a modern cloud-based customer service CRM to enable contact centers to digitally transform their operations. DJ: How did you develop Helpshift? Tripathy: The Helpshift platform has been designed first and foremost with the “end-user” in mind: that means taking our customers' customers largely into account when designing the UX. DJ: How successful is the product proving to be? Tripathy: We have created an entirely new model for consumer-to-business communication, very similar to how products such as Slack have used messaging and bots to reinvent employee-to-employee communication. This advance is driving many industries to rethink their customer service communication strategies because their customers clearly love this experience and businesses love the economics. Many industries in the fields of technology, media and entertainment, gaming, financial services, Ecommerce and marketplaces and more are using Helpshift to deliver a great customer service experience to their consumers.